Getting model releases signed

gabelimom

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Hello everyone-

I do a lot of celeb work, and lately, I've had a few people balk at signing a model release. I've been shooting for 4 years now, and it's only in the past month or two that I've had people refuse to sign it at the shoot.

I own an online magazine, and absolutely must have my releases signed, as all photogs should. I usually give the person I'm shooting the release at the end of the shoot. I've had to leave my releases two times with the people I've shot, so they could "read through it". Even though I tell them I will sit with them and explain every single item, they still won't sign. I hate leaving the release, because 1) it makes me feel very uncomfortable and 2) I don't want them to think they can totally rewrite the release (and my rights to the images).

Anyone BTDT, and what have you done to make the experience smoother? As I said, this has never been an issue until recently, and I don't want it to become a repeat occurrence. Thanks everyone!
 

thenikonguy

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i think your first mistake is getting them to sign after the fact... if you get them to sign before hand, and they say no, its quite simple, "no signy, no clicky"
 

RONDAL

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no signy, no clicky....also means no wasted time for you.

of the people that have refused to sign at the end of the shoot, have any refused to sign even after taking some time to read through stuff?
 

Overread

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I agree with the others and infact I would mail them (email) a copy of the release before the shoot (if possible) so that they have time to read through it and ask any questions. That way you both go to the shoot knowing what your both going in for - rather than doing a shoot and having them bolt at the end of it - leaving you with nothing.
 

thenikonguy

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time is money in this biz, especially if your running a magazine.. and if you take an hour to shoot someone, and they wont sign your release, the photos become useless, and thus, you've wasted money....
 

KmH

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Have to agree, the model release should be completed before the 1st shutter click. You have little or no leverage after the shoot.

Model release requirements vary from state to state and if you're in California or New York celebrities have more rights than the average person.
 

c.cloudwalker

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What kind of photos do you shoot? and what kind of online magazine do you run?

The last I checked you don't need releases for most celebraity photos unless you are shooting them in the tub through the window.
 

Plato

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Hello everyone-

I do a lot of celeb work, and lately, I've had a few people balk at signing a model release. I've been shooting for 4 years now, and it's only in the past month or two that I've had people refuse to sign it at the shoot.

I own an online magazine, and absolutely must have my releases signed, as all photogs should. I usually give the person I'm shooting the release at the end of the shoot. I've had to leave my releases two times with the people I've shot, so they could "read through it". Even though I tell them I will sit with them and explain every single item, they still won't sign. I hate leaving the release, because 1) it makes me feel very uncomfortable and 2) I don't want them to think they can totally rewrite the release (and my rights to the images).

Anyone BTDT, and what have you done to make the experience smoother? As I said, this has never been an issue until recently, and I don't want it to become a repeat occurrence. Thanks everyone!

I'm on their side...
Would you sign a contract without reading it, especially when the salesman hates to leave it with you? Would it make any difference if the salesman explained it to you verbally? Would you sign one that didn't protect you the way that you want to be protected?
 
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gabelimom

gabelimom

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It's not that I don't want them to read it. In fact, after I shoot the last shot, I give it to them, tell them to read through it, ask me any questions, and then sign it. I think the language scares them, and then they panic. If I send it to them ahead of time, they will either come in with a laundry list of things they want to change or they won't read it and I might still have the problem.

And no, no one has ever refused to sign after taking the time to thoroughly read it and/or asked me to explain something to them. 9 times out of 10, they just scan it and sign it.

Ironically, the "bigger" celebs don't ever give me a hard time. It's the "D-listers" who are the biggest pains! But I know leaving releases with them is not a good thing. So far, the two who had me leave the release have as of yet to mail it back to me. :( FYI: These two people have also wanted to have the right to approve the images before they are run in the magazine. One is an up and coming designer, and the other one is a former child actress.

I think I might opt for the option of signing the release first. But what if they pull that **** of not wanting to sign? Do I have the hair people, makeup people and stylists all go home? Some of these shoots take months to coordinate, and then to go home empty-handed, not having shot anything...

It's a pickle. It really is. :(
 

RONDAL

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send it a week before, no sign within a few days of the shoot and you pull the cord. if the form isn't signed everyones time is wasted, and the hair/makeup people are still going to want to get piad, so you're out of pocket.

if this were any other business you'd be doing the equivalent of starting contract work before the contracts signed. Once you're working and the jobs done, you've lost all your leverage.

I do contracts for a living (not photo related), and the way you are doing it currently exposes you to the maximum amount of risk possible.
 

Garbz

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I'm on their side...
Would you sign a contract without reading it, especially when the salesman hates to leave it with you? Would it make any difference if the salesman explained it to you verbally? Would you sign one that didn't protect you the way that you want to be protected?

Contract, definitely not, not without reading. But I've signed a few model releases when presenting my thesis at a few innovation expos, and honestly I have seen credit card receipts that were longer.

You're right though it does depend on the release form. But knowing a few local "celebrities" they are just so up themselves they probably wouldn't have even looked at the form before not signing.
 

Plato

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It's not that I don't want them to read it. In fact, after I shoot the last shot, I give it to them, tell them to read through it, ask me any questions, and then sign it. I think the language scares them, and then they panic. If I send it to them ahead of time, they will either come in with a laundry list of things they want to change or they won't read it and I might still have the problem.

And no, no one has ever refused to sign after taking the time to thoroughly read it and/or asked me to explain something to them. 9 times out of 10, they just scan it and sign it.

This is where we're worlds apart. To me, reading a contract thoroughly means that I've taken it home and read it carefully without a salesman looking over my shoulder. If I have any questions, I'll ask my lawyer, not the person that has a vested interest in obtaining my signature. This is especially important when the contract has language that scares me.

FYI: These two people have also wanted to have the right to approve the images before they are run in the magazine

That's the nature of contract law. Two parties agree to a set of conditions. If YOU don't agree with the conditions that the other party requires, then YOU have the right to withhold YOUR signature from the contract.

But what if they pull that **** of not wanting to sign? Do I have the hair people, makeup people and stylists all go home? Some of these shoots take months to coordinate, and then to go home empty-handed, not having shot anything...

Well, you can always use the godfather's technique of making an offer that he/she can't refuse. I don't know if you remember that scene but the technique is quite simple. You hold a gun to his/her head and state: "Within two minutes, either your signature or your brains will be on the contract."
 
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Plato

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But knowing a few local "celebrities" they are just so up themselves they probably wouldn't have even looked at the form before not signing.

They have that right and the photographer's only recourse is simply to not take photos of them.
 

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